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How COVID-19 is exposing inequality in America

  • 25% of frontline workers are from low-income families

    Frontline workers who have continued to put their health at risk on the job throughout the pandemic have an added challenge to contend with: low pay. Around 25% of all front-line workers come from low-income families, according to Anna North of Vox.

  • WIC recipients struggle to find eligible foods

    Empty supermarket shelves might leave many shoppers disappointed, but for people who rely on government assistance for food, a lack of options could leave them at risk of going hungry.

    Participants in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) have found their grocery stores emptied of all food eligible under the strict guidelines of the federal program, reports Julia Reinstein of BuzzFeed.

  • COVID-19 puts millions of children at risk of food insecurity

    With schools closed, the 30 million kids who participate in the National School Lunch Program and the 14.7 million students who get the first meal of the day through the School Breakfast program may not get the food on which they’ve come to rely, according to Abigail Hess of CNBC Make It. A study from Feeding America, released in late April, forecasts that 18 million children may face food insecurity because of the public health crisis.

    [Pictured: Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida, Orlando.]

  • Health care workers run out of personal protective equipment

    While health care workers were already at an increased risk of exposure to the coronavirus due to the nature of their jobs, they faced an even greater danger when their hospitals ran out of equipment. The Department of Health and Human Services predicted in March that health care workers and patients would need 3.5 billion N-95 masks—far more than the 12 million the country had stockpiled, reports Abby Vesoulis of Time. Some health care providers have been forced to reuse masks.

     

  • Workers lose hazard pay, even as COVID-19 drags on

    With some states reopening, workers who had been receiving hazard pay are seeing that benefit phased out, notes Eric D. Lawrence of the Detroit Free Press. Given that millions of people are unemployed, these workers have virtually no leverage to demand more compensation, which forces them to stay in underpaid positions, according to Alina Selyukh of NPR.

  • Renters can’t afford their housing costs

    Around 31% of the country’s 13.4 million renters could not afford to pay rent in April, based on data from the National Multifamily Housing Council via NPR. Renters are more likely to lack the money to cover basic needs than homeowners, according to Corianne Payton Scally and Dulce Gonzalez of the Urban Institute, and the pandemic may be widening that disparity.

  • Public housing residents face greater risk of COVID-19

    People who live in public housing may be facing a greater risk of COVID-19, according to Mica O’Brien and Susan J. Popkin of the Urban Institute. Many of these residents rely on service providers, like home health aides, who could increase their exposure. Senior residents may also face increasing isolation, which can lead to mental health problems.

  • Single-parent families face increasing challenges balancing childcare and work

    Without another adult to share responsibilities at home, single parents face disproportional struggles balancing childcare with work, now that schools are closed, according to Mieke Beth Thomeer and Jenjira Yahirun of The Hill. Those problems get even worse when you add the challenges of accessing government benefits, like unemployment insurance, which may require many phone calls.

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